FORCE members and community leaders from partner organizations, working with a wide coalition of criminal justice advocates, led the campaign that resulted in the passage of HB 494 in the Illinois House of Representatives on Thursday, April 23, 2015. The bill would remove life-time barriers to employment for people who have turned their lives around after a non-violent criminal conviction. It has been one of our legislative priorities for almost two years.
We celebrate the victory today as we prepare for the work that still needs to be done. HB 494 now heads to the Illinois Senate and we need your voice in the coming weeks to ensure it passes before session adjourns at the end of May.
Floyd Stafford, a leader with Community Renewal Society's FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality) Project, was in Springfield to advocate for HB 494 and share his story with legislators. Floyd stated, “If this bill becomes law, I can be an asset to my family and my community. I can be a change agent in local schools and do my part in encouraging and challenging students to follow their dreams.”
This victory is a credit to all of the work done by you, our CRS leaders in congregations and communities across the state. Your in-district visits, calls and emails to your representatives, and your advocacy in Springfield all fueled our success in passing HB 494 with a bi-partisan vote of 66-47!
We would like to give special thanks to our criminal justice advocacy partners working in Springfield: Heartland Alliance, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the bill’s Chief Sponsor Representative Kelly Cassidy and the 30 other cosponsors.
Your voice is critically important. Together we can continue to win change and increase employment opportunities for returning citizens who have changed their lives and want to make a contribution to their communities.